“It came as a surprise to us. All we received was a fax indicating the layoff late Thursday afternoon,” City Manager Rod Butler said. “It’s a little discouraging. We believe they’ll continue and employ more than 500. We’re glad they’ll continue to operate.”
The fax indicated there was an expected layoff of 103 workers, Butler said.
“This was a blindside — we had no indication,” Mayor Luis Molina said. “We’re on a roller coaster ride. We get good news, and then we get bad news. As a whole I think it’s been good, but tell that to someone who just lost their job.”
The company announced Thursday afternoon that it would eliminate up to 115 jobs at the Patterson distribution center over the next few months.
“This was a difficult decision made as part of the implementation of new systems and processes designed to improve the facility’s efficiency and productivity,” CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis wrote in a prepared statement.
Employees who are affected received a 60- or 90-day notice of layoffs and will continue to be paid their wages during the waiting period, DeAngelis said.
Gaylord Phillips, secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Local 386, which represents employees at the CVS warehouse, would not comment on the matter Thursday, but he confirmed the layoffs will happen in two phases. He said he had been informed by company officials the number of layoffs could be as high as 120.
Teamsters Local 386 Business Representative Bryan Ronngren said CVS was implementing a new internal warehousing system.
“They feel that it will make them more efficient and it will save them money,” he said. “I don’t think it's right that they’re laying off people.”
At this point the issue is out of the union’s hands, for the most part, according to John Costa, Teamsters’ Local 386 vice president.
“It’s a pretty intense time right now,” he said. “We’re going to watch out for an orderly layoff.”
Costa said the teamsters would be monitoring to make sure that all contract rules are followed as the company implements layoffs.
Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark has operated its 800,000-square-foot Patterson distribution center in the Keystone Pacific Business Park since 2008, after buying out Walnut Creek-based Longs Drugs that year. Longs Drugs built the warehouse in 2006.
Teamsters local 386 and the company reached an agreement on their first contract after about two years of efforts in July after 11 months of negotiations.
That agreement included wage increases over the next three years and a lower employee contribution to health insurance.
Thursday's announcement comes in the wake of the announced closure of Patterson Vegetable Co. later this month. That closure will result in nearly 300 full-time workers and affect an additional 300 seasonal employees.
At the same time, it also comes just a little more than a month after online retailer Amazon.com formally announced it would open a fulfillment center in west Patterson. The warehouse will open in spring of 2013 and is eventually slated to employ more than 1,000 people.
In addition, a new Walmart store, which is now under construction at Sperry and West Las Palmas avenues, will have 300 employees once it opens, company officials say. The store was initially slated to open in time for the 2012 holiday season, but company officials have since backed off from providing a firm opening date after construction was delayed by soil issues earlier this year.
• News Reporter Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 31 or email@example.com.